Teachers express creativity through entrepreneurship

We interviewed three Waipahu High School teachers who have started their own businesses. 

Academy of Natural Resources teacher Rachel Domingo operates an earring business called Moon Dance Designs.

Moon Dance Designs launched in December 2020. The idea for the business came from Domingo’s motivation to stay active during the initial lockdown and from Domingo’s mother. Domingo says, “I couldn’t do a lot of the activities that I did prior to the pandemic [like] hanging out with my friends. When we were on lockdown, I needed something to do that would keep me busy.” Domingo mentions that her mother also used to have a jewelry business, which was a big inspiration to start her own.

Moon Dance specializes in the creation of unique polymer clay earrings. Some earrings are also made with other materials such as rattan and wood. The business only sells items during the first week of each month.

Visit @moon.dance.designs on Instagram and the Moon Dance Designs website during the first week of each month.

Osumi wears a handmade lei po’o (left). Osumi has created custom lei po’o such as this yellow, black, and green one (top right) and lei for events such as weddings (bottom right).

Math teacher Teri-Ann Osumi owns a small floral business called Prayer and Petals.

A lei po’o class that Osumi took with a friend in 2018 inspired her to start her business in November 2020. She began to make lei for her friends’ birthdays every year, and eventually, other people wanted to buy lei from her. Osumi now makes floral arrangements for all types of people and occasions. She has also taught lei classes to help others learn these skills. Osumi sees her small business as a way to partner with people in their celebrations such as birthdays and weddings. Her sales and classes have made her more confident in her skills.

Osumi says that one challenge of running a small business is overcoming self-doubt and insecurity in one’s work. “But when people start to see your work and you create items that people would buy, it adds value to who you are and what you do,” Osumi says. Although Prayer and Petals is not taking orders at this time, Osumi would love to work with more brides in the future. Visit @prayerandpetals on Instagram in the meantime.

Ramos on “Bakers vs. Fakers” (left); a cupcake bouquet (top right) and L-shaped cake topped with strawberries, strawberry macarons, and flan wedges (bottom right).

Fellow math teacher Edmar Ramos runs a small baking business called Sugar Cubed Sweets. Inspired by his friends’ suggestion to sell his baked goods, Ramos primarily specializes in cupcakes and number- or letter-shaped cakes. Along with other types of cakes, he has also been also asked to bake brownies, cookie sandwiches, and more.

Ramos says, “I mainly do it because it makes people happy,” but baking led him to “one of the best moments of [his] life”: participating in and winning an episode of the Food Network show “Bakers vs. Fakers.” Through his participation, he was able to meet and network with his idols, and have them taste and compliment his baking. In retrospect, Ramos says, “It took me a while to believe that happened.”

“It’s also like validation,” he continues. “I’m very self-critical. And when people tell me they like the things that I bake, I feel humbled.”

Ramos advises aspiring bakers to “follow the recipe before you start trying to do your own stuff. And I would say don’t give up if something doesn’t turn out the way you want it to turn out. Try to problem solve and figure how to correct it.” 

Visit Sugar Cubed Sweets on Instagram and Facebook.